What would “embodied engagement” look like in my locale by the churches I serve? The locale is Winchester, Va. The churches are Greenwood and Montague Ave. The current practices of this spiritual discipline are:
- Prayer walks. A few of us gather weekly to walk some of the neighborhoods that surround Greenwood. About 5,000 homes are within 5 miles of the driveway of the church. We could walk every day of the week in a different neighborhood. A thought. Currently, a small group walks once a month in the neighborhood of Montague Avenue. Montague Ave is a true neighborhood church, sitting in a residential area of about a 150 homes, and several apartment complexes. Again we could walk more often.
- One area where I and others could make a better effort is knowing the names of those with whom we associate every day. We should no the names of those who cut our hair, who is behind the counter at the bank, or the meat dept. of the supermarket, who serves us our meal, who delivers are paper. And so many more.
- I have progressed, thankfully, in being a faithful presence in the community. I gave up office hours at the church. Now, I spend more time at coffee shops around town. Wi-fi has made this easy for the computer savvy pastor. But even the less savvy could benefit from time in local establishments. For others it is a matter of being intentional as a presence in the community.
- We all can too improve in engaging with those who are different than us. I have an advantage over many having traveled extensively to other continents, even living for a time in some places. Also in having had the experience of living on both coasts and in between in the states. It must be harder for those who have lived all their lives in the comfort of one place. And now that place is changing. Immigrants are challenging them with their cultural biases. This may be the most difficult area of change for many in our congregations.